Green Subway

Underground train system used to carry large numbers of passengers within urban and suburban areas, also known as subway, tube, or metro. Subways are normally built beneath city streets to make construction easier, but they may take detours and must occasionally cross rivers. The system’s outskirts usually emerge aboveground as conventional trains or elevated transit lines. The majority of subway trains are made up of multiple cars that operate on a multiple-unit basis.

Charles Pearson, a city solicitor, suggested the first subway system for London as part of a city improvement proposal shortly after the Thames Tunnel opened in 1843. Parliament approved the building of a 3.75-mile underground railway between Farringdon Street and Bishop’s Road, Paddington, after ten years of debate. Cut-and-cover construction on the Metropolitan Railway began in 1860, with trenches dug along the streets, brick sides added, girders or a brick arch added for the roof, and the highway restored on top.

London’s example was followed by a slew of other cities. The first subway on the European continent, a 2.5-mile (4-kilometre) electric tube, opened in Budapest in 1896, employing single trains with trolley poles. The use of a flat roof with steel beams instead of a brick arch, and thus a smaller trench, resulted in significant cost savings over prior cut-and-cover systems.

The Metro (Chemin de Fer Metropolitan de Paris) began service in 1898 in Paris, with the first 6.25 miles (ca. 10 km) opening in 1900. The speedy pace was due to the large streets above and the modification of the French engineer Fulgence Bienvenue’s cut-and-cover approach. At regular intervals throughout the route, vertical shafts were sunk, and side trenches were dug, and masonry foundations to support timber shuttering were placed immediately beneath the road surfaces. The roof arch was then built with minimal disruption to street traffic. While this technology is still employed in Paris, it has not been widely replicated in the construction of subways abroad.

Automatic trains, which use aerospace and computer technology to design, build, and run, have been developed in a few urban regions, including the Victoria Line, a component of the London subway system (completed 1971). BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit), which opened in 1976 in the San Francisco Bay Area, was the first rapid-transit system to be intended for totally automatic operation. Trains are controlled remotely, needing only one crew member in each train to be on standby in the event of a computer breakdown. The first subway line in Washington, D.C., opened in 1976, featuring an autonomous train control system and 600-foot (183-metre) long underground coffered-vault stations.

Other elements of modern subway construction include air-conditioned trains with lightweight aluminium cars, smoother, and faster rides due to advancements in track construction and car-support systems, and attention to the architectural appearance of and passenger safety in underground stations.

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